Journal Article

Cut–Off Point? Regulating Male Circumcision in Finland

Heli Askola

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 25, issue 1, pages 100-119
Published in print April 2011 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online January 2011 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/lawfam/ebq018
Cut–Off Point? Regulating Male Circumcision in Finland

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This article examines a 2008 judgement of the Finnish Supreme Court on the legal permissibility of male circumcision, setting the judgement in its social context and examining its consequences for public policy. The court ruled that (medically unnecessary) circumcision of a Muslim boy, when ‘appropriately’ performed, does not fulfil the criteria for the criminal offence of assault causing harm, unlike female circumcision, which always constitutes a criminal offence. The legal tolerance shown to male (as opposed to female) circumcision was justified through physical differences and cultural assumptions that allegedly distinguish between the two practices. While the outcome in some ways recognises the increasing diversity of cultural practices that are transforming a traditionally homogenous society, some of the assumptions made by the court are questionable and the outcome of the case leaves public policy in a state of uncertainty, requiring legislative action by the government.

Journal Article.  8448 words. 

Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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